Liverpool – Arsenal Afterthoughts: DM-pivot needs sorting out!


Arsene has got his work cut out to make the team bounce back once more.
Arsene has got his work cut out to make the team bounce back once more.

More than 24 hours after the debacle at Anfield, it is still not easy to come to terms with the devastating implosion of our team in just 1200 seconds.

Regular BKers know that I believe our first team players are not lazy and calculated but committed and passionate about our club. It is natural to want to point towards a lack of attitude by our players for this embarrassing performance, but I reckon this would be self-deceiving. Yesterday, technically and tactically we were not good enough and Arsene Wenger is the main culprit for this.

It would be a lot easier to blame a lack of passion and commitment as the main cause of our defeat, but on the day we were simply not good enough. It will now be key for Wenger and his players to show us this was just a bad day at the office.

In a nutshell, we lost the game through two horribly defended Pool set-pieces and a subsequent inability to turn the game round without leaving the door wide open for the Scousers’ deadly counter-attacks. And deadly they were.

As 17highburyterrace pointed out yesterday, nothing is more frustrating to watch than Mertesacker having to run back towards his own goal chasing the game. We lacked shape, organisation, composure, professionalism and, most of all, any dominance when it still mattered.

The set-pieces were defended badly by the whole of the team, as we looked all over the place (especially the second one), but our CBs should have taken better control of those situations.

It is also fair to say we were not able to match the energy of the Pool players at the start of the game. We knew we had it coming and we should have been prepared better for this.

As others have pointed out already this weekend, and as I have been saying since the start of the season, our weakest area is in the double-DM pivot. Without a fit Flamini we are a different team, especially against the top teams. And going forward we need to improve on Flamini as well if we really want to come close to beating the top teams on a regular basis (and win silverware).

We lost the battle in midfield as we were unable to match Pool’s energy and speed, and I am holding my breath for what is to come in the next few games, as we seem to have structural problems in this crucial area.

I like Arteta, but he is not the man to protect our back-four and lead our team in these kinds of matches. Keen observers will point out he was not fully fit and he did not get much support defensively from Jack (also not fully fit). I would agree with that, but even if Arteta had been fully fit he still would have struggled to protect and lead effectively on the day.

Arsene had a chance to properly strengthen the DM area during January but he chose not to. By all accounts, KK is another attack-minded midfielder rather than a defence-minded one. If this area turns out to be the area where we lose this season’s chances to win silverware, I will be very disappointed in Wenger. Let’s see what he will do next for the games against Manure, Liverpool and Munich.

But it was not just our DMs and CBs who were not good enough on the day; Cazorla, Ozil and Ox also had little or no impact on the game and Giroud was totally isolated. Our midfield only started to play as a bit of a unit in the second half, when it was far too late.

Without a good functioning DM-pivot the defence will not get the right protection and our attack will be left isolated. I cannot stress enough how vital the deeper laying midfield duo is to the overall effectiveness of the team. They are the brakes and gear box of the team.

I am confident that Mertesacker and Koscielny will sort out the defence again, but I have doubts about our ability to protect them and to dominate midfield play during the next few crucial games again. Wenger and Bould have their work cut out here, and let’s hope they will get it right.


142 thoughts on “Liverpool – Arsenal Afterthoughts: DM-pivot needs sorting out!

  • It is 1 bad defeat after a bad run, we are still in great shape. I am not too worried only worry is getting the tough fixtures off to a bad start. For a few seasons it has happened and has been said that we always do it. So i think it is a good chance to prove them wrong and get though it in a good way.

  • people seem to think wenger enjoys losing??! He has plans, sometimes they work sometimes they dont, but thats football and we have to give credit we are only just second due to his tactics. Believe in the team gooners

  • Also i think we are starting to really miss Rambo’s influance , his engine in midfield and his defending as well as goals are being missed.
    Liverpool on the other hand were not worried about having 2 DM’s they were all about attacking and scoring goals.

  • That double pivot could easily be sorted….move Vermaelen forward !!!

    If anything, I think Vermaelen could be the perfect defensive mid, defensively he’s up there and very tigerish in his tackles, coupled with his speed (Youtube Agbonlahor race), strength and jumping (Watch him against Carrol) abilities. First season he proved how capable on the ball he was when he bombed forward interchanging passes and lashing shots into goal. Been screaming this for a long time and it could easily be what we need to transform our team.

    For those who are saying, what if he get’s injured or one of our center back’s get injured ?!?!

    My reply is we got Super Sagna to the rescue, he clearly doesn’t have the legs to be bombing up and down like he used to and although his crossing is getting better it’s not close to Jenko’s. We got Giroud and Bendtner (Who is definitely better than Giroud in the air) who could thrive off those whipped in crosses from Jenko.

  • I think Arteta is one of the main reasons behind our good defensive record, always nullifying attacks & retaining possession. But he has been poor since returning from injury.
    Wilshire has been poor all season imho, very show too react to danger situations.
    Yesterday though it’s our full backs who should shoulder a lot of the blame, look at their positions when Ozil lost the ball, and who left Per isolated against Suarez out wide.

  • Hi PG

    Liverpool had nothing to lose, and had our double DM pivot functioned better we would have been able to punish their lack of DM cover.

    A fully fit Rambo would have been great yesterday, but only with Flamini’s cover I reckon.

  • Mahobho

    Who said anything like that? This post is not an attack on Wenger.

    Believing is good but we also look at the game itself on this side. So join us with constructive comments rather than cliché one-liners. 🙂

  • Mr12, TA,
    As TA said he wrote a post on it on here, many of us on this site have been saying the same thing and love the idea of playing TV5 there. I think it would work great and give TV5 some time on the pitch. IOf it last like this til the end of the season i fear we will lose him. He is to good a player not to play. Then chances are Per or Kos will get injured knowing our luck, Wenger knows the players best and io am sure him and Bold have thought about it. In Wenger i trust.

  • Hi TA. I agree in part. Yes, there are structural issues as well as the issue of our general attitude yesterday. Like you, I think we have a committed and professional squad; but sometimes they are less keyed up than others – and they were slow starting yesterday. We won’t often get punished in the way we were yesterday, but Liverpool were as sharp and in gear as we were the opposite – and everything went in and their way accordingly.

    Structurally, what struck me yesterday was our lack of pace – not something you would often say about a Wenger side. But we need give ourselves more options. I have no problem with Arteta not being a speedster, but normally he has outlets, and at present we have few. Fab was never a speedster either.

    I don’t share your anger with Wenger over the DM position – he has strengthened the squad here, with Flam, and we have depth in quality there when Rambo is back. The problem yesterday was that, in addition to Art and Jack not being fully fit, the one DM who is was not available because of his reckless red card – hardly Wenger’s fault that one!

    I think Wenger was saving Ros for the manure and Bayern games, but this proved a misjudgement I suspect. This is where the size of squad does cost us – and this is in part a Wenger choice I must accept. Rotation options when we have key clusters of games are at best tricky, and when we have significant injury problems as now, they are virtually impossible.

    What I struggle with is how poor players like Mert were – but I don’t doubt his commitment or passion for one moment. And this takes me back round to, it was just an of day – and unfortunately for us it coincided with the pool having their best outing of the season. At the end of it though the table doesn’t lie, and we have been consistently the better side over the season. We need to avoid panic, respond professionally and decisively, and ensure that we finish the season as we have played over the last 25. If we do, then there are enough banana skins around for the other teams for us to have plenty of hope for the end.

  • Sorry, I missed the cut so I’m reposting here:

    I finally convinved myself to look at the highlights, relunctantly. What can I say… I’m glad that we don’t have a complete meltdown on this site, I was afraid like 17ht we’d throw toys out of the pram (by the way thanks for all your posts in that difficult time, 17!). We are after all the best team over the last 12 months, that has to count for something.

    But then what happened? Gerry is pointing to a tactical diaster, and I can imagine that either AW tried to do something that we weren’t ready for (Gerry spot on again?), or the players just couldn’t make it work? Now I hate it when, after a looong spell of good results, something goes wrong and suddenly everyone goes with their “I told you so”, but I find myself a bit in that situation (so bear with me and what follows).

    From the highlights (didn’t want to go through the full 90’…) I felt I was watching the team from the first half of last season, disjointed, too much space between the lines, back 2 or four directly exposed and at the mercy of a single long pass, holding a line too high for Per and our holding DM to hold (lack of pace). But I have a feeling that could be corrected.

    What worries me a bit more, is what we have seen several times this season despite our excellent run for the past year – at different times against BD, Everon, Southampton, City, and now Liverpool – great difficulty in setting up our game against an aggressive, fast pressing team (“gegenpress”).

    And this is probably compounded by the loss of our top fast paced outlet/solution up front (Theo), the lack of Ramsey’s engine and overall quality, and Flamini’s (stupid) absence. Even more so against Liverpool, as Gerry mentioned, the “play back to” solutions were very scarce, and their fast paced front 3 just killed us (the 2 set pieces is something else, but I believe we will fix it). If we don’t improve on that urgently, I’m afraid LIverpool, City, Everton maybe will hurt us again, Bayern can destroy us… We need a strategic, tactical solution when we can’t play our slow build up passing game.

    I am one of the Arteta fans, despite his lack of physical prowess and is slow pace he greatly contributed to stabilize our defense the second part of last season, but I must say that since he got back from injury (Southampton?), he seems not only slower, but half a second late on every action. Our possession game si a double edged sword, when one or 2 of its key players (double DM) does not cope against better teams (hence the need for a “midfield superiority” DM), it leaves us very exposed. But it’s not fair to put the blame on someone.

    Have we had (a) bad performance(s) because we’re missing a few key players? Or have we been more clearly “figured out” by other teams? Can we continue to try to play and impose our game against top teams, without tactical adjustments? It had been a rare occurence, but it’s a few times now I cringe having to look at Per trying to sprint back in defense… Per is a fantastic defender but not with a high line. Do you think the return of Flamini will alleviate the problem? Or will Rambo (but that might be too late to be match fit for the march fixtures after more than 2 months out)?

    I am unfortunately not qualified to povide answers, but would love to to hear how our best posters think we can adjust to deal with those issues against the top teams we have to play agaisnt in the next 2 months.

    For now, and I’m sorry for the cliché but we need to bounce back, and our ability to do so has been defining our good season so far.

  • TA,

    Jsut a comment on KK. Now he is just a stop-gap, and will not be fit until (too?) late, but having seen him extensively paly for Lyone back in the days, including in defensive positions, I think he has all the qualities that we find in MA (positional, reading of the game), plus more physical presence (including aerial capability) and more pace, he could bring more than you think (waiver… he IS older now!).

    Also I was disappointed by the TW, but (recalling your provocative title a few posts back), there was no “HIguain” story, and it’s not like we missed players that were on the market – even for inflated prices. You could argue over Matic, but was he on anyone’s radar? the other DM names I’ve seen mentioned, I’m not convinced about. As far as we can’t blame Rambo for his injury, that two footed Flamini challenge is what is stuck in the middle of my throat for the moment.

  • Alcide – very similar views. In terms of outlook I am not pessimistic though – we still do have quality, strength and a cohesive team. I like to think that we will not repeat the poor display against set pieces soon – this must be looked at urgently by Bould et al; our performances this season, when Mert and Kos are fit, should be reassuring. I can’t see Oz and Santi being so marginal 2 games in a row, and any combination of Art, Jack and Ox will be a little fitter next time out for having the game time. And hopefully Gir will keep his hampton tucked in before the next game….

    I do wonder about what we are doing with Gnab at the moment (I don’t think he’s injured?), and I wish we would persist with Pod for a spell now he is fit again.

    And then we will have Flam back after the Mancs game. He owes us some performances after his self inflicted exile.

    Yes, a quick bounce back is the key. I believe we still have the team who can challenge if we turn things around immediately. Wednesday will be a humdinger, and will be season defining for someone I suspect.

  • As a Liverpool fan (wenger was right we do know our football) so do you mate you got it in a nutshell.

  • TA, you sum up the match so well. My only concern was should we still have lost by such a large margin because the tactics are wrong. Don’t the players themselves (some of which are very experienced) have to say ‘hang on a minute, our original tactics are not working and we have to change it now as we cannot wait until Wenger to tell us what to do at half time’. The great players follow manager’s orders but are also able to adapt and change without the manager telling them to.

    When we conceded the first goal or even the second goal why did Mert or Arteta (our vice-captains) not gather the team? Why did Sagna and Monreal (hugely experienced fullbacks at club and international level not realise they need to stay back a bit and help defensively etc. I am not trying to single players out as most of them were poor but I expect the players to sort if ‘think for themselves and do things for themselves’.

  • AB, Arteta and Flamini are not natural DMs. Arteta is a regista and Flamini is really a box to box midfielder with presence. I think TA wants a specialist like Essien. Ramsey is a huge miss as he is probably our most balanced midfielder and is our engine while Theo is our main source of goals and adds a huge number of assists and that’s without even mentioning his pace. He gets behind the defence. He normally turns up against the big teams when you need him most.

    Flamini and Arteta will do until the end of the season but for the future we need a new DM, that’s what I agree with TA about. I fear about our DM pivot against the likes of Bayern.

  • When it comes to Liverpool match, I remembered something. We had been almost as dreadful as we were yesterday back in 2012 in the first half. For those who don’t remember, Liverpool should have been at least three goals up before the break, they scored once (Koscielny’s own goal), Szczesny’s brilliant double save denied both Kuyt’s penalty and a rebound, Suarez hit the bar… We were all over the place because Koscielny and Vermaelen were awful. Van Judas’ goal came out of nowhere after a wonderful cross by Sagna and poor defending by Carragher. As you know, Van Judas fired a last-minute-volley to give us three points after a lovely dink by Song.

    Why I mention this? Well, Liverpool had unleashed hell similar to the one we suffered yesterday except we neither had a world-class striker to bail us out (Giroud’s…situation between Skrtel’s goals) nor an exceptional performance by Szczesny to prevent Liverpool from putting the game in bed before 20th minute. Our back-line hadn’t been much better than our back-line from yesterday – there was too much space for Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez with Coutinho as a player that deserved to be mentioned.

    Vermaelen as a defensive midfielder – I have some sympathies for that idea. He has a nice technique, he is a good jumper, he can pass the ball properly, he has pace and energy…not to mention that he has a thunderous left foot as well! However, Vermaelen tends to stand too high on the pitch, his positional awareness has been a problem and it is questionable whether he would be able to provide a proper shield to our back four in matches like the one at Anfield.

  • alcide,
    good comment , well worth a re-post. I enjoyed it and agree with nearly all you said.
    The way to beat the fast pressing, our style stopping play is to speed up the tempo. Exploit the areas where there is space or where our player can dominate theres , up and down the flanks, work out which side you are getting more sucess from, then pass it out to there more. All easier said then done of course. Take nothing away from lfc either because they wre great yesterday.

  • Admir, I point to Luiz. At CB all over the place but in the double DM pivot he was magic.

  • This has been coming. They have been slow out of box, need to stop show boating that first 25 min.

  • Fascinating post TA

    From my pespective, at present we have a fundamental weakness that sides with top forwards tend to expose.

    We are a side that front faces the oppostion, palying on the front foot and when we dont have it, dropping deep to defend with depth and numbers

    This is logical. We have a midfield that is based on technique, not agression, size, or athleticism. We can ask our midgit midfield to go into battle or approach a game negativly, otherwise whats the point of playing them?

    So were does it go wrong? Teams that play a high press disrupt our passing game at source. If we are harried and give the ball away in our own half, we are then reduced to running backwards to defend. The easiest way to conced goals in modern football is when you are turned and running backwards. You have essentialy lost control

    Let me ask this. How many times did we turn Liverpool round foring them to run backwards, and how many times did they do it to us?

    Football mirrors life. Your strenghts are also your weakness. Arsenes philosophy has taken us near the top and works great most of the time, but now and again it goes horribly wrong

    What can improve us, make us stronger, gain better results against the top sides?

    At this stage I am undecided. is it to reinforce the midfield with an enforcer? Change our approach? Or is it a case of improving our current game further by playing and moving the ball better under pressure?

    This is Arsenes dilema. Lets see what he does both short term, but more importantly, in the future.

    I would just like to finnish with this. When we play at home, high pressing tactics do not have the same effect on us. We move the ball so well on our big and lushious pitch and the crowd plays its part.

    For the above reason, it is my opinion that we can still win this league and hopefully the Cups. I feel we need some big wins at home and we are more than capable of doing it.

    P.s TA, ime very pleased you survived the night. I saw a picture of Pelegrini this morning and he looked very flush. Poor old David Silva looked like shit. hahaha

  • AFC. Art et al are not specialist DMs for sure. The question is whether Wenger really wants this type of player, or whether he wants someone who can operate in a more fluid fashion between defence and attack – my sense is that it is the latter that he seeks within the team. This should not be a cause of despair to us – Vieira was not a specialist in the former mould either, and he was hardly a handicap.

    I am sure that Wenger wants to build for the future in the DM spot – his reported bid for Lars Bender indicates as much. But where this need fits into his list of other priorities we will need to wait to find out; the success of picking up Flam may ironically persuade him that he need not spend big here.

    Whatever the need, I am sure that Wenger will be planning for our future with Jack, Rambo and Ox all in our top squad. He will need to select very carefully the type of player he wants to see playing with them over the next 5 years.

  • Agreed AFC on tactical adjustments. I really wonder what the instructions actually were for the game, and am disappointed that players couldn’t adjust. It’s particularly interseting that Arsene included himself in the bad performance. Although, I remember the few instances where I have been in similar situations (playing rugby or volleyball), and the feeling of helplessness that you find wourself and the whole team into can be overwhleming, however good (or better) your team can be, whether you are a top level professional, or a enthused amateur. 2 nil after 10′, 3-0 after 15’… tough to keep your head cool and react accordingly.

  • Terry – you and I see matters in a very similar way. We both ‘know’ which way Wenger will jump here – he won’t change and buy a straight enforcer type, he will do the opposite and try and do the movement/technical play even better. His whole philosophy is about this style of football ultimately triumphing over the compromised play of others. It has been his weakness in times where we have been short of cash, but it could be his redemption now we can both retain and buy. I hope so; just buying and slotting in is what the oilers do, and I like to feel we are better than that.

  • @AFC – is David Luiz only DM in Chelsea line-up? 😉

    @TMHT – I’ve heard that David Silva now can’t stand Javi Garlic anywhere near him.

  • AB, I see your point as it is often the same point 17 makes but does the whole midfield have to be fluid. Too much fluidity can be a bad thing. Instead of having the front 6 be fluid why not have a traditional holder and have the five players in front. More defensive stability in my opinion.

  • AB, yes, I suspect that is the case. However, if we had a fit Diaby available, would Arsene not play him?

    Admir, hahaha. poor David Silva. Been sucked of by Pelengrini dosnt bear thinking about. hahaha

  • Very intersting TMHT. I have been wondering about the same thing. To an extent the game we try to play is 95% efficient when we impose it against “lesser” teams, but the moment we cannot impose it, the drop in efficiency is drastic. To me, the closest model(s) comes from Germany (and there are clear signs that AW is looking in that direction) – BD, BM. Barcelona technicity with added directness. What we are currently missing is more pace. I have been dreaming about Draxler/Theo as a mirror of Ribery/Robben (the fact that both are aging is scary though… hard to not think that BM will do everything for Julian). In DM as well, I don’t want a pure DM destroyer unless we can find a Viera, a Touré. I want a pacier, more physical version of Arteta/Flamini. Damn we are missing Rambo indeed at the moment. Bender would be great. Ideally some height would be nice too though (we really suck on high balls in midfield, or on our throw-ins (OG always has to drop down to help). I’m silly but I’m still hoping for a Diaby miracle too…

  • Terry, Wenger would definitely play Diaby if fit. Alcide, you never know with Diaby but will it be worth it, remember he would be around 30?

  • AB, good points.

    We disagree on the cover we have in the double DM pivot, but I hope you are right and I am wrong at the end of the season.

  • To an extent I think Arsene would rather have 2 Rambo types as our double pivot, rather than a single DM beast + box-to-box…

  • AFC – yes, understood. In my real life I am a pragmatist to the core, but I admire the perfectionist in Wenger and what he is capable of creating. If I were playing virtual manager games then a tough DM would seem pretty obvious. But Wenger shuns the obvious, and wants to prevail through play that is defined by beauty. Ferguson was the opposite, a hard pragmatist. History, if it stopped now, would count Fergie the superior by far – but he had far more resource to draw on. However, Wenger still has time to change history; whilst Fergie can only watch!

    I don’t see Arsene changing. But with the young talent he has now, plus the ability to buy some select quality additions, he has a chance to add some more high points to his history with our club. But he won’t do it ugly would be my wager!

  • AFC… I know hehe… He’s only 27 though, maybe he’ll give us a couple of years just like RvP after all the injuries. That would be a great story 🙂

  • Neither do I AB, but do you not need to change if your tactics have not won you a trophy for close to 9 seasons. I would like to see Wenger try something different and have a number of ways to play rather than just one.

  • True AFC. Such a shame about Diaby

    Alcide, very interesting points. Just like AB’s comments, I can see the logic in everything you say.

    To be honest, I am still not sure on how the team should evolve. I have the sense that Arsene will try and overcome issues against top sides that deploy certain tactics by enhancing the speed at which we play. Sort of chimes with your view on Draxler/Theo and playing some one like Bender.

    Fascinating times ahead

  • Terry – yes, Diaby would be in like a shot! But I don’t see him as ‘merely’ a destroyer – he has phenomenal flair to go with it. If he had stayed fit I think we might have remembered him as we do Vieira. His potential is presumably the reason that Wenger has stuck with him so long.

    TA – me too! It will be hard to tease out reasons though – either way. We will have to wait and see how the Chelski:City result plays out too. City needed stopping – I’m not sure who else would have halted their momentum. We have to see now if Chelsk continue to have the odd misfire. I can’t stand either side, and ultimately if we finish second or third I don’t care which of them wins above the other.

  • Alcide, good comments and questions. I am convinced we did not get a DM because Wenger was not looking for one, not because nobody was available. Money talks.

  • AFC – its not Wenger’s tactics that have ‘cost’ us for 9 seasons – they are the reason why we have performed so well with so little resource! The same might be said for Everton – were they failures under Moyes, or did they over-perform? I would say the latter. Why change tactics at the very point that you have the leverage to apply your tactics properly?

    The tactical change, if that’s the right term for it, is that we are no longer selling our best players each season, and we are instead buying selectively from the very top drawer to supplement a talented home developed core. I’m very happy with that tactical switch!

  • The more I read you guys comments and the further I think about It, makes you realise what a terrible loss to the squad Diaby is.

    The guy gives a differnt dimension. Height, surge, drive, skill, the guys got the lot really.

  • AB, the problem with our tactics is that they struggle to work against the top teams. I’m not saying that is the sole reason why we have not won anything but surely it plays a small part.

  • AFC. Not sure what you are arguing for now – box to box or out and out DM? Yaya, or Vieira comes into the former, as could Diaby if he could make it from one to the other…. Are you saying that neither would be sufficient for what we need in our double pivot – i.e. you would look for a more defensive player than either of these?

  • AB, what I would do is invest in one Song type box to box midfielder and one real DM. Not sure which one I would invest in if I could only choose one as both can be as effective as each other.

  • Look for the youtube stuff on Diaby… I had almost forgotten his class.

    AB, you mentioned Everton – it’s intersting how the (other) best defensive record squad + good pressing outlet got walked over by Liverpool as well. Looking at the goals they scored, I have to admit what they did, they did well, from Skrtel’s splendid header, to the defense splitting passes. It was no little team we played.

    Quick questions – still wondering why Nacho got started against the fastest from 3 in the league instead of Gibbs? Did we want to preserve him? And is Verm injured?

  • AFC – yes, agreed on the tactics point against top teams. The question is (for Wenger I believe) if you get the right players in will those same tactics be unstoppable? I think this is his absolute conviction; his life’s work. I cannot conceive of him changing these core beliefs, only the players he choses to apply them. I am not blind to their failings – and I doubt Wenger is either. But I would love to see him have the chance to apply them using a combination of a core team built from youth and the best talent to supplement it. Will need another 2 years at least if it is to happen.

  • Excellent comment Terry. I reckon it is a bit of both: better defensive ability in midfield and better passing. Other than the Flame, who can actually defend?

  • AB, AFC, with the way modern footbal is going and the Arsenal context, I think we’re dealing at the margins here (between box-to-box and pure DM). I’m leaning towards (and think AW wishes for) 2 SQ box-to-box with strong defensive capabilities – capable to tackle, constantly harass, but also able to play wengerball, if that makes sense.

  • AB, defo but will Wenger buy such players to allow hos philosophy to fully work? I do not want him to completely change his tactics but just be able to have a number of systems. Sometimes you have to go against your beliefs to win a match. Mourinho will do anything to win and that is the ONLY thing I like about him.

  • Alcide, I think you have it. The only problem for me is if Wilshere can play in such a system. Rambo can but Ox, Wilshere I’m not sure which is why I suggested a pure DM as well.

  • AFC. Yes Song had a lot going for him – I can’t believe that Wenger sold him for ‘footballing reasons’; I wonder whether he was a positive model for younger players? Rambo is clearly the first choice box to box at present, and Wenger is playing a passing/midfield general type alongside him for preference. Our reported interest in Cabaye I assume was to be another in this type rather than further forward? I still think he will be looking for an ‘intelligent’ type to play alongside Ramsey, and this is likely to be a higher priority for him than physical presence.

    As before, I’m simply trying to interpret what Wenger wants here!

  • AFC, I think plan B died with Theo being out. OG brings a lot, but his lack of pace (and Santi on left wing) is also an obvious impediment to other systems.

  • Course AB, I think that was lie. He was sold by the board to get money. We sold all of our best players in that period apart from Walcott.

  • TA – not sure that’s what Alcide was saying!? Its the type he summarised – the issue is Rambo is not an effective tackler, yet at least.

  • TA, believe me I don’t undersetimate the importance of defensive abilities, but maybe I overestimate Rambo’s? I see him as capable as a Didier Deschamps sometimes, but I might be wrong. So you’d prefer a Khedira type of guy I suppose?

  • AB, I think you got what I was saying, but TA has a point, I may not have picked the right name to illustrate what I meant.

  • Alcide, question for you.

    Would you rather have a midfield two of a regista and a box to box midfielder like Song or a regista and a pure DM like Mikel?

  • AB, I think you got what I was saying, but TA has a point, I may not have picked the right name to illustrate what I meant.

    AFC, I’m evading your question, but I’d take a regista with presence+box-to-box 🙂

  • Alcide, my ideal DM was Edgar David’s, but I also liked Gilberto. Khedira is also good. I like Flamini a lot and when fully fit he is great, but how long can he continue at this level and who is his back up?

    Re Rambo, if combined with Flamini he can be very effective, including helping out with some defensive taks.

  • Knew it Alcide. 🙂

    Question for 17ht when he comes on BK. Because you like our midfielders to be so fluid would you rather we play with no AMs and DMs but 3 CMs who are all equally as good when it comes to defending and attacking?

    So would you rather have a midfield of Diaby, Ramsey and Wilshere all alternating as CMs or a midfield of Arteta, Ramsey and Rosicky where they all still rotate but the players are more suited to specific roles (in the case of Rosicky AM, Arteta as a regista and Ramsey as box to box)?

  • Yep, a younger/pacier/taller/SQ version of Flamini alongside Rambo will make my day!

    17ht is missed tonight, but he did such a great job contributing to keeping the fort last night 🙂

    I’m off to bed… it’s been nice talking to you guys, and I have to say how great this blog is, I don’t think there are (m)any place on the web where one can discuss like this after such a huge blow… thank you Totes.

  • Thanks Totes. I agree with a lot there, but I cant agree with Wilshere and Arteta not being fully fit !. Would Wenger admit to playing unfit players ?. In Jacks case it would be nothing short of unprofessional madness to play him with the problems he has had recently !. No players should be playing if they are unfit, they just become a liability to the team. That’s what squads are for !.
    We were simply beaten by a better team , who play a fast high tempo game to suit the players they have, we currently lack such players and maybe should have just parked the bus !.
    I feel for the supporters who have been sucked into our false position of being top for so long, had they not been wearing the delusional rose tinted glasses, they would have seen the tsunami of fixtures coming up which will probably leave us fighting for 4th by the time the Everton game has finished !.
    Dont write Manshafter Std off !. We might not be as lucky as Fulham were today if Manshafter Std have another 31 shots and 75% possession on Wednesday night or if visa versa, we will be hit on the counter as normal !.
    As each game goes by, my like for like looks even more logical !. This season we are just edging a lot of games, none of the big score lines of last season, apart from the ones against us !. However, this can turn into our favour for next season as there is going to be some heavy shit hitting the fan when all the wheels come off and Arsene will have to seriously look at some SQ in quite a few positions next season and allied to our fine youngsters we can maybe look forward to competing once again !.
    Hit me hard bruvs, but I know this is a false position we are currently in and we will be back to normal service within the coming weeks !.
    My crystal balls and psychic phallus of doom have spoken !. hahaha

  • This, in my opinion, was a result that we have had coming for a long while now. Somehow, we tend to start games very slowly, very nonchalantly, waiting for the perfect pass to score the perfect goal. Then, in the second half, we come out full throttle ahead, very serious , purposeful, and full of energy as if our lives depended on it. I keep asking myself why can’t we play like that in the first half of every game and just annihilate the opposition (with 4 or 5 goals) straight from kick-off, then we can afford to relax a bit in the second half and just routinely control the rest of the game. Why do we have to wait until the second half before we actually starting playing properly? Does anyone have a good valid answer? We’ve been getting with this against mid table to bottom teams, but against the top teams, we need to start games with a much higher intensity, lots of energy, and show no mercy. Enough trying to slowly get into the flow of the game. Let’s start doing what Liverpool just did to us: kill the game off inside of 20-30 minutes!

    The best game (in my opinion) that we have played both offensively and defensively (not mutually exclusive) in the last 2-3 seasons was the return leg of our Champions League game round of 16 against AC Milan back in 2012at the Emirates. I have this game recorded and watch it every time I am bored or feel depressed after a bad performance by Arsenal. I loved it the way we took the game to Milan from the get-go and allowed them NO time on the ball. The whole team was pressing, chasing, and working extremely hard all over the pitch led by the forever young Tomas Rosicky. That was so beautiful to watch. I want us to apply that same attitude and intensity to our remaining games this season and show all the doubters that we are for real and are here to stay (hopefully at the top of the table come May).

    We have the players to dominate anyone but do we have the right attitude, the right approach, and more importantly, the belief that we CAN and WILL beat the top teams…?

    That is the question…

    Go Gunners!

  • Hey fellas… Fine post TA and an excellent discussion, and if I did my part to help get past the tremendous frustration from yesterday’s match, I’ll take the tiniest of bows…

    From everything I’ve ever read or heard AW doesn’t like the idea of dedicated holding or defensive mids. The English game is predicated on power, and rampaging (beastly?) box to box types are a thrill. Wenger, I think, wants to control matches with possession even if he’s welcomed a far more shape-keeping, somewhat counter-attacking style since our deadly run of matches last February (losses to Blackburn at home, the somewhat fortunate 1-3 scoreline in the first leg vs Bayern, and then losing to Spurs 2-1). We have had converted defenders in the role (Gilberto and Song) but those days seem behind us. All told, I think there’s more flexibility to his approach in this area of the pitch than some people believe, but that his priority is ALWAYS the attack ahead of the defense.

    Credit to Liverpool yesterday for coming out and controlling the game from the get-go with greater athleticism and desire. I don’t doubt the collective will of our current group, but it did seem like we probably were more schooled on the technical aspects of how we might control the match than geed up to win the 50-50’s and physical battles. The squad is woefully thin, we’ve got a very tough run and injuries might derail us even more than defeat. We immediately tried to push up and BFG pulling back Suarez 30 seconds in led to the first goal. Soon after, Santi played a great through-ball but Skrtl dispossessed Giroud and shoulders slumped. It only got worse from there.

    Tactically, the mistake might have been not to continue with Ox in the pivot next to Arteta and JW starting on the right wing. Jack’s been effective over there before, trading spaces with Ozil and another early bad moment happened on that side when Ozil was dispossed in a tight triangle with Sagna and Ox. To be frank, Ox was very much wasted over there as a team player (he had a few decent solo runs towards the box). These are young fellows and one is coming back from a short period out while the other has only just come back from a bigger injury and playing with the reserves or against relegation and lower league competition. They *should* be able to move and fill for one another but it is asking a lot. No matter where they start on the pitch they will need to move more quickly and with greater intelligence to alleviate pressure. Hopefully Liverpool was a wake up call as United and Bayern also have quick and intelligent players who will see that pressing our guys was a (very) successful tactic.

    Still, the older guys (Arteta, Ozil, Santi and the two FBs) needed to do much better. I think TA (and others) suggesting that Arteta cannot carry a load as the principle shield has merit. I’ve been loathe to criticize Ozil but he has to do better and yesterday a combo of shying away from challenges, counting on ref intervention and bad pace choices on his passes to teammates were all evident during “those twenty minutes.” These next few matches will require a massive improvement and real leadership, by example at least. He’s got the mobility that Arteta lacks and will need to be an outlet for pressure relief and springing the attack forward.

    These are the guys we have for this stretch (plus Flamini, who I expect will lead us vs Pool in the FA cup match next weekend) and we need a big step up. I’ve already written too much and my thoughts about lamenting missed opportunities in the transfer window were repeated ad nauseum yesterday, so I won’t go there. Nor does it seem time to talk about guys who aren’t available (Diaby, Ramsey) and idealized formations or methods of play. What we need is an immediate improvement in our play from the opening whistle vs United. Weak and wounded as they are, we are too. Stretched as we are I believe we have the personnel to do the job. Now we just have to do it…

  • This was worse than the 8-2 to Man U in a way. I was absolutely crushed and haven’t been able to think if anything worth saying so I haven’t posted. Wenger simply made the wrong choice tactically playing Mertesacker against such a fast front 4. He should’ve put Sagna in the middle if Verm wasn’t fit enough. The team showed no focus and only Szcz, Jack, and Ox really truly seemed to be 100% there. We should be beating Liverpool 5-1, not the other way. That was embarrassing and I hope Wenger isn’t afraid to drop those who were pathetic in that game. That being said, I hate these attacks on Ozil. He wasn’t at his best, but he wasn’t the worst by a long shot.

  • 17, 😀

    The question I posed to you was not really about injured players (Ramsey and Diaby were injured) but about whether you want our midfield players to be equally as good when it comes to attacking and defending as opposed to the midfield players who AW plays who are more specialised. Surely playing players who are more balanced enhances our system of fluid football?

    Maybe someone else can give me an answer. Gerry? : D

  • 17, 😀

    The question I posed to you was not about injured players (Ramsey and Diaby were example) or ‘idealized formations or methods of play’ but about whether you want our midfield players to be equally as good when it comes to attacking and defending as opposed to the midfield players who AW plays who are more specialised. Surely playing players who are more balanced enhances our system of fluid football?

    Maybe someone else can give me an answer. Gerry? : D

  • Arsenal need 2 box to box, not specialy 1 DM , JW not make his job on defense and Arteta is a horrible player ….. KK is a good midfielder and is not offenssif but more defensif i think in Lyon is very good player and ARsenal need the player like that !!!!!
    It’s time for the youg player they would give back a breath of fresh to our team

  • Cheers AFC – That does nothing lift the mood. 🙄

    TA – This was more than a bad day at the office. I agree with those who say it was a game waiting to happen unfortunately.

    However, it will not get any better if AW continues to believe that we can play our way out of trouble by matching high pressing teams by pressing high ourselves? The gap between Kos/Mert and our midfield, with them too high up the pitch against a team with pace AND quality was naive to say the least. We have ‘got away with it’ against teams who fell short on one or both of these ingredients. I find it very short sighted to try and blame or find fault with players when I doubt if left to themselves they would have played that way? If a team of bricklayers are doing there job of following the architect’s plans find the walls falling down because ‘somebody’ did not check out the foundations properly, who do you blame?

    The thing is now is how to correct it for our next game. AW will know that, but limitations within the squad does create problems. Without doubt Flamini’s absence is a big loss, but only because he can cover a greater area of the pitch than Arteta. That in itself would not have change the result on Saturday, but he would have provided the players with an outlet ball. With so many of our players in an advanced positions, and all being pressed as soon as they got the ball, the only backward option was the CB’s and they were a long way away from Chezzer. The safer pass would have been back to Szcz, but such was the better quality of opposition, they were able to set themselves for a quick intercept?

    Instead of trying to play that high line unilaterally in a sort of formation that resembles this:
    1———2–1—–7, we have to get back to a bank of 4 behind a line of 5, when defending, with Giroud doing his bit upfront – Did Bouldy have a week off by any chance?

    Luckily, as Man U proved again last night they might have the talent up front, but they are woeful at the back. One has to question Moyes’s teams selection too, but like AW, he may have had one eye on this game, and kept a few players back. Mind, it is still hard to fathom Mata on the right? I suspect they will line up differently on Wednesday.

    So, given the available team, and forget TV5 in the DM spot as he has not made the bench the last two games, so either his back problem has re-occurred, or it is something else? But the usual suspects will be available. We are at home, but that does not mean that we can just click a switch and we can start ‘on the front foot’ to coin that cliche. As we found last time, for our players to play that way they need space, and United will try and deny that, whilst still being a threat going forwards. So beyond the back four I guess Wilshere will be alongside Arteta. Rosicky to be the forward outlet ball. Hopefully Gnabry gets his spot back on the right. Then it gets more difficult, but with AW I guess he will go with the Ozil, Cazorla , and Giroud up front. He might find it too much to drop Ozil and have Ox on the left, but I would be happy with that as he offers better defensive protection? The key will be keeping the ball with plenty of off ball movement and slick passing, just to see off the first 15 minutes or so. If JW is not fit(enough) and is rested for the Cup game, then Hayden has to be considered as he has been playing the DM role for the reserves(Under 21’s). If Arteta is out then Hayden plays. To answer 17HT’s point, is he better than anyone else from the squad, YES, if JW, TR7, or Ox are the only alternatives as the partner?. The Sagna switch with Jenks coming in would be another … but Jenks v Mata??

    Whilst just touching on the TW possibilities, Matic was available, unfortunately not to us. I have no doubt he was the type of DM that AW is looking for? Those Lars Bender fans, I am not overly impressed from what I’ve seen. A fitter/younger version of Flamini, but not without flaws?
    A bit like Song with pace, but lacking in the creative department. Khediera looks good, but again, a bit B2B. So for me it is a defender first, and with good passing skills. Ginter would be fit the bill I think.

    That in part, answers your question AFC@2.10. In order to allow our other midfielders the freedom to get forward you need a defensive minded player behind them. Arteta is that player at the moment, except it is not his natural game, so all credit to him to do as well as he does, but he is not as young or quick enough do what is required at the top level. Ramsey, given the option, I would not have him in a DM role at all, not even B2B. He is a busy player ideally suited to the high pressing game and movement in the final third. A tackling 10 if you like? Ox, JW and TR are both good for the play out of defense. So JD would be the fifth member of that club, with Ozil and Cazorla the floating creative hubs. All this goes to point to the type of player needed behind them? Ideally in a 4-1-2-etc formation? We may have to wait too long for M’s sacking to get Matic, and Luiz is more like to go to Spain, but that is what type of player I think AW is after? The trouble is, they are a rare breed.

  • Sorry Macko, I’ve just argued the opposite, but I think you are a Hayden fan too, given the chance?

  • Gerry, thanks for the response. 🙂

    I’m just trying to establish by having a midfield made up of more balanced players can fill the gap of not having a naturally defensive player. Sorry if I annoyed you in anyway.

    I go with your view that we need a defensively minded player behind the front five to give them the platform and freedom to attack and express themselves. But I want the player in this role to actually be a defensively minded player. They are rare but are around if we look hard enough in the summer, are willing to pay top dollar and one us available.

    I am not blaming the players (as I pointed out to TA) but trying to point out that they could have changed minor things themselves which would not have made us lose that much? Managers want players to be one step ahead of the game and adapt or change when necessary?

    I like your idea about Hayden but do not much about him? I think he is quite tall but does he cover a lot of ground like Flamini. Is he a younger Flamini?

  • Hi all..
    What a sad week for us.. but life must go on.. hehehe..
    We’re lost 6-3 againts City.. and we fightback.. and we stay on top for more than half of the season.. (18 weeks)..
    Yes yesterday we lost 5-1.. but we know that we will fightback again..
    And wednesday game against MU is the big moment to do it..
    If we win.. than not only we do the ‘payback time’ but also mean we also fightback to the title..

    And guys.. MU was not as great as they used to be.. Yes they beat us 1-0, but that because they played the parking bus in the secondhalf.. they just been lucky not to lost.. hehehe..
    Lastnight they only draw to Fulham.. at home.. The team that we beat 1-3 away.. hehehe..
    SO.. Don’t worry to much guys.. We will win back the title..

    And the good news is that Chelsea draw with WBA at home last November.. So maybe they will also get draw again this time.. And WBA need a point badly.. and they will fight also..
    And Chelsea seldom lost or draw with lower team such as sunderland and westham.. or even lost to Stoke City.. So.. maybe.. just maybe.. we will be at the TOTL sooner than we know.. hahahaha.. Go Gunners..

  • Gerry, great post as usual, and the debate between 4-2-1 and 4-1-2 continues – Arsene should join the blog 🙂 What do you think of Thiago Motta? Does he fit your bill?

  • Morning Liverpool Loss Limp Lengths !. 😆

    Where Darth Wenger seems to lose it, is his dark side stubbornness to think he can attack every team the same !. As Gezzer points out, against Liverscum we played into their hands !. We cant play them, Mansour City, Chavski and Manshafter Std as we would play Hull, Palace or W Ham etc`.
    Different horses for different courses !.
    Gezzer, sorry mate, but you are putting too much blind faith in the unknown quantity of Hayden !. I don’t know how you come to rate him, unless you have been to games watching him !. I have only seen glimpses of him on Arsenalplayer and Rooney and Co would destroy him !.
    A disciplined Coquelin would be a much better option, he is quick, skilful, has an engine and bites !. He seems to have lost his way a bit, but is that because he never got a fair crack of playing ? . Anyway, alas he is playing out of position and in another country !.

  • Replies in reverse order.
    TCM – Agreed on the first point. Re-Hayden. I have not seen any more of him than on the ‘Player, and write ups. But the point I was making that he is a defensive minded player, and without Arteta and Flamini, a possibly injured Vermaelin, the only other ‘spare’ players would be Gibbs or Jenks. Or you shuffle the pack by moving Sagna in. A third alternative would be to pair Hayden with Mert and have Kos playing the DM. Most of the changes carry some risk, agreed. But, the thought of two B2B players in the double pivot would be a disaster waiting to happen, imo? I did say if Arteta and Wilshere were both fit then Hayden should be on the bench … but given some game time if the situation allows.
    Let me put it another way. Of the 3 games coming up, which is going to be the easiest? I do remember when Hayden did get a start and he made that bad tackle which he could have got a red card for, but the second half he was as solid as any? In an ideal world he should have been given more experience, but look at the team that Fulham put out? Why is it we do not trust the youngsters to do a job when asked. I was calling for Gnabry for ages and he is now very much a part of the squad. I am not saying that Hayden has his talent at this stage, but he has the potential that needs an airing. Not ideal against Rooney and RVP, but he could hold them up until help arrives. If we keep playing Arteta or JW, one or both might not make it for the return bout with ‘Pool, and SaS are no pushovers. Even then, if Flamini is back for that or Bayern, Hayden alongside him gives us two moblie DM’s? In which case, I would be happy to see him alongside Arteta if need be, against United if only to test the water?
    Coquelin was playing in Germany, but has been back for 5 weeks … and not played? He got injured just after scoring his first goal out there, so may be he has not recovered. But agreed, he would be an ideal cover for JW.

  • AFC – I did not mean to sound annoyed with anybody in particular, it was more against the collective thinking that had been said over the previous two days. Sorry if you felt it personally.
    Like yourself, I only offer an opinion, which can be challenged by anyone.

    At least from the triple substitution made on the hour, I think we can take it that AW knew he had got it wrong? Unfortunately that pointed the finger at certain players, whereas, to me at least he sent them out to push up and try and impose our passing game on them? I am not even sure we did start slow, given we were a goal down in a minute, and that sort of blew them into no mans land. Too early for a plan B, and not enough time to realise that Plan A was the wrong one. ‘Pool did to us what we have done in the past when we scored first, they sat back a bit in the second half and waited to counter.

    I hope the ‘Bould’ influence reasserts itself on Wednesday, where we can assess their tactics before we press forwards. I expect Man U to try and do what ‘Pool did from the off. In which case we will need to keep the likes of Sagna or Gibbs being a little less cavalier in going forwards, of for that matter Jack. That does not mean we drop very deep, but only press them between the halfway line and the final third. Keep defensive width so they cannot get in behind, and harry in numbers. Leave it to Rosicky, Ox/Ozil/Santi and Gnabry to push fowards at speed, and try and get Giroud with only one marker.

    The starting line up may give a clue as to how we play. On the 4-1-2 or 4-2-1 debate, I don’t see much between the two really, because in both cases 2 out of the 3 MF’s are going to be B2B’s?, so with fluidity, you would expect one to lie deeper than the other, and drop right back when defending?

  • Yes you are right TCM. I could have sworn I read his loan spell was cancelled at Christmas. I checked, forgetting he is no longer an academy player Doh! 😳

    He is even older than the aforementioned Ginter.

  • In the first match against United, we managed to find some balance when Gnabry was brought in to give width to our attack. After that Sagna whipped dangerous crosses that our strikers couldn’t convert into goals.

    I’d go with:

    Szczesny-Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs-Rosicky, Arteta-Gnabry, Cazorla, Podolski-Giroud. Yes, I’d bench Ozil, Wilshere and Ox.

  • Gerry, I was asking about Thiago Motta for the “type” of player, he will be with PSG for a while. As for the 4-2-1 vs. 4-1-2, it’s just a view of the mind, I agree, but I see 4-1-2 as more representative of a full time DM lying deeper as opposed to our double pivot more fluid model.

    Admir, a bold move… I must say I’m not yet set on who to play Wednesday, but may be leaning to not to change too much, When the whole team fails, give it a chance to redeem itself?

  • Alcide – Sorry about that.

    On the double pivot – Where I was thinking that half of any double act, one stays, one can go forwards. That is true even with Flamteta to some extent, and they are the only defensive pairing. Otherwise it is one DM one B2B, so the only fluidity would be if a different MF drops back?

    Agreed on the line up if all came through the last game, so may be Gnabs in for the Ox, and/or Rosicky. I think the Liverpool looms larger than this and Bayern, so any doubts, rest them?

  • Thanks alcide !. No one ever asks me about my like for like logical factor !… are the first and I proudly announce you as my newest bestest friend !. hahahaha
    We are currently minus one point worse off than last season in like for like games !…..only a win will get us to plus one point !.

  • TCM, I’m not sure how to take your “newest friend” news hahahaha 🙂 To be honest I believe it wasn’t entirely relevant until now, and is still not fully relevant. What it does tell me though, is that we are as good at this point in time as last year on the same fixtures where we had produced relatively good results – so that’s excellent – and therefore that our season will be defined by how we play NOW, in those games where we didn’t perform and lost the most points last season.

    The injuries and suspension unfortunately converged at the worst moment in our fixture list, but I have no doubt (ok, I wish Liverpool hadn’t happened) that we are a better team than last year, and that we can compete against top teams, even thought the average level of those teams has also improved. But OGAAT for now.


    There are some social protests in my town as well as in the whole Bosnia. Take a look at the bearded guy with a cap (second from the left). I’ve seen him the other day and I thought BFG came to my town!

    alcide, you might have a point there, especially because Ozil plays better at the Emirates. Still, we have a very busy schedule ahead of us and perhaps it would be wise to give him a rest ahead of home tie against Liverpool.

  • if you do not trust in the youth Arsenal, why make a young team??
    Yes Gerry Hayden and future and Afobe and Akpom as well as SEVERAL other players at least I hope however if not used to purchase for resale to the young teams 2nd division!!
    A player is not better because it specially worth 40 million euroset Thiago Motta and too fragile to PL!!

  • In a way bestest friend alcide, hahaha…….. you are the only one to sort of understand my………logical like for like factor !. It was all to basically say ( which you have said ! ) that if we don’t improve on last seasons like for like results, we will not win the EPL !…..more of the same and we will only just get a CL spot if we are lucky….which is fine by me as I personally thought we would only get may be 5th or 6th !.
    Yes we have improved ….more defensively imo ( apart from the City, `Pool games ), but we thrashed a lot of teams last year and haven`t done so far this season !.
    I will stand by my opinion that the reason we were top for so long was the way the fixtures had fallen, I expect the torturous ones coming up to prove my point, but would love to be proven wrong !. I will get no satisfaction in saying…… I told you all so !…….well apart from Gerry !. hahaha

  • Still in too much shock to comment about the Liverpool game. But for the manU game I’d like to keep özil on the bench but he may be what we exactly need for manU. I’m going to bench jack though. Oxlade can play through the centre with arteta. And gnabry can start ahead of cazorla or özil. I’d really love poldi to start too. We’d need that precision against manU.

    Whatever team wenger fields though, he better let them know it’s a must win.

    We should play gnabry and chambo on the wings. Rosicky partnering arteta and özil Behind bendtner.
    LOOOL™. I bet no one will see that one coming. Might backfire though. *shrugs*

  • Hey guys, quick one here before I try to sample the massive amount of wet snow we got higher up. I was able to avert the flooding of my garage at this lower elevation with a couple of electric pumps, so I’m feeling (almost…) somewhat excited…

    Gerry, very nice post, please try to make time to keep bringing them. Of course, I think you’re insane stumping for the various youth players. 😉 I realize it’s optimism about the young guns and in the case of Gnabry I think you’ve shown that we do have options from the youth ranks. They’re actually on the roster and available so, for me at least, I prefer people suggesting those names rather than guys playing for other clubs…

    Admir, I need the shaking my head emoticon–on the one hand it’s all about who we should’ve bought and on the other you want to bench the guy who cost 50 million Euros! I’m starting to think that you’ve gotten to the point where your distaste for the manager is to the level that losing *is* winning… Please tell me that I’m wrong…

    Our season hangs in the balance and we must beat ManU in 2 days time. Frankly, I’m very concerned, but if we give a solid team effort and get a little luck we can do it. Everybody needs to play better. My hunch is that it will be the same 11 except Rosicky in for the Ox…If we bring the correct focus AND embrace the hugeness of the occasion and United continue with their poor finishing and their frailty at the back we can do it. We’ll also need a pretty exquisite balance between our working our attack while maintaining shape and not getting caught on the break. I don’t see us making tons of chances so turning them into goals will be huge. I’m talking to you, Olivier Giroud…

    On the topic… Arteta must do his bit and Ozil and JW must help him. (And yes, the FBs must be prepared to help out too, prioritizing defense over attack–at least until the scoreline turns against us…) It’s not so much about (Arteta) being a 5th defender as it is about working his tail off to provide an outlet for our guys on the ball while keeping an eye to defensive shape in case we lose it. Over-ambition plus maybe the noise at Anfield and pushing up too aggressively led to a crazy shape at the outset-what was BFG doing trying to mark Suarez 30 seconds into the match on the right touchline?!?–Which naturally worsened as we needed to chase the game. It *should* be easier at home. The problem is that United have nothing to lose and Rooney and RvP are serious threats but we cannot forget the supporting attackers either (as we did at Anfield) and Mata (the left footed Rosicky?…) can provide service. Unlike those who would bench him, my bet is that Ozil is THE MAN and that this match is his chance to be a commanding force in the center of the pitch. He should be rested for the FA cup match, or be a bench option if we’re chasing the result on Sunday.

    But I get ahead of myself…This is Oh-Gaat in the extreme and our season will crumble like one of cockies cookies if we fail… If we can win, however, we go back to even on his (dreaded) like for like, chart of doom…

    Good times, eh… 😀

  • “Admir, I need the shaking my head emoticon–on the one hand it’s all about who we should’ve bought and on the other you want to bench the guy who cost 50 million Euros! I’m starting to think that you’ve gotten to the point where your distaste for the manager is to the level that losing *is* winning… Please tell me that I’m wrong…”

    @17 – I need the same smiley because you missed the point completely. 😉 Remember how Oxlade-Chamberlain dominated against United in 2012 before he was replaced by Arshavin? I think Gnabry can do the same on Wednesday. Serge has proved his talent this season and he might offer us width that we have lacked this season due to Theo’s absence. Evra has been woeful this season and we should exploit that.

    Cazorla has been our best player in 2014 and might make things happen from the middle with Podolski – who has been rarely used which can mean that he is either rusty or fresh, depending on how you look at it. Let’s not forget we play Liverpool on Sunday and Bayern on Wednesday – we need to use our best players wisely (Özil at his best is our best player) and I highly doubt that Wenger will use Özil in all four matches. Manchester United’s current form suggests that it might be the best chance for Wenger to rest the German.

    Rosicky adds bite to our team and directness in passing game. Someone mentioned that it’s going to rain on Wednesday so we might need someone like Rosicky. Remember how he created a sitter to Giroud against Chavs? Arteta will probably start due to the fact neither Jack nor The Ox are 100 percent fit.

    Now. mate, is this elaborated enough or you still think that I’m on my mission to ruin Wenger’s empire? 😛

  • As much as I like my Logical Like for Like Factor………I do prefer Seventeenho`s….Chart of Doom !.
    Logical Like for Like Chart of Doom Factor !…….. or just…..Chart of Doom !……….can we have a vote on it ?.

  • splendid Post @ TA – was right on the money and I am with you .

    for me, Dylan’s comment was that stood out – yes, we showed more heart, fight and grit when we lost 8-2 (should have been a lot different had that traitor scored that penalty, ehhh) – even with 10 men in that game, we were constantly attacking and were posing a threat – Great comment , Dylan.

    too right, I also think that Chelsea would be dropping points along the way and they are only one injury (Hazard) away from doing that on a consistent basis @ Henrychan

    I see that Gerry and everyone else have made very valid points and posted quality comments.

    I am going to say something that Admir pointed out (apologies , if it was something else ) – Attack is the best form of defense….and I hope we don’t move AOX to the middle any time soon or not until Theo is back next season, as he can provide us with some pace on the wings, and put in decent crosses , can cut in and have a go from distance – also, he can interchange with JW in the middle, sometimes with JW moving out to the RW and work in a triangle with Ozil or Rosicky .

    let’s take it easy on Ozil, he will deliver the goods on wednesday – I am confident , the man has too much quality to be this quiet or below par for as long as he has been – AW .

    yes, Diaby would have been perfecto at Anfield, he was the main reason why we won 2-0 there last year…. however, no point dwelling over players who are not available – although, if i had a choice of having one of Ramsey or Diaby back , fully fit first then it will be Diaby – that’s how much we miss his presence.

    also, while I was reading the comments, I got the impression that we were playing with 3 CM’s in MF and 2/3 no.10’s that have been converted or asked to do a different job ? it’s correct but, as a footballer – you must be open to adapt and deliver the goods, regardless of what role or capacity you are asked to play – these players come through the ranks playing through all sorts of different positions – sure we lack a proper DM but let’s make the best of what we have –

    PS: you can not ruin AW’s Empire , even if you tried any harder because we have TMHT ensuring you don’t get far with it @ Admir – but if you tell him that AW has a lot of wigs in his empire then maybe you stand a tiny chance 😉

  • *if someone else and not something else

    TCM – we win on wednesday and we will be +2 on like for like, yes ?

  • You`re the accountant Oh Oh Seventh Heaven !. 🙂
    I thought it was currently -1 point, so a win will make it +1 point as we drew last season 1-1……Van Khuntz scored !.
    And what`s this on your last comment @18:18 about playing 3 Cockie Monsters in midfield ?.

  • least we will be +1 – thought we lost last time to them at the emirates but am glad we have you on here as the voice of treason 😯

    ahahhahahahahahaha , blimey – totally slipped my mind that CM bit resembling with your alias.

    alias reminds me of Jennifer Garner (and i can already see Jane sharpening the whip, ha

    how typical of the chelsea manager to want a ban handed out to Yaya . T and how typical of the FA to not ban him for 3 games, even though he deserved it, a panel of 3 ex ref’s said no – ( just how many ref’s do man city have in their back pockets, frightening).

  • Alias !…..I liked that show a lot and wondered why it came to an abrupt end !. Then again, the Squatches seem to just pull the plug on any decent series if the viewings are down !. That was the first J.J.Abrams show of any kind I watched and like his stuff as it is usually Sci-Fi !. Although “Lost” had a fcuking shit ending !. Yes, Jennifer Garner induced many a Barclays !. hahahaha

  • yep, it had something to do with them moving on and leaving the show on the high – absolutely hated LOST though , not sure why I wasted so much time watching that rubbish (stares at jane)

    ahahhahahahaha , not sure if it’s a good sign, we had the 4D ultrasound scans done today and you’ll know how it is more than I do – I am under her radar all the time now, so I do try to maintain my distance as much as I can, ha

    good news, Ribbery out of the CL clash – it’s official

    now if only the rest of their first 10 starters miss it as well 😀

  • Know what you mean about Lost !…..I spent a lot of time watching only to be disappointed by the ending !.

    There will be a mid-week UMFL if everyone get their predictions in !. So get on the UMFL page and submit your predictions Bastards !.

    Oh and Bastards, I have twice now asked if any bastard watches House of Fools ?. Do I have to visit you all independently with the non lubricated Arsene Cock Puppet !.

  • Good news about Ribberys Arse. Who the f*uck believes that crap story about a burst arse vessel? More like his arse was used as a vessel by Robbens diving cock.

    I reckon we will do those Munchens. By the time weve finnished they will be doing the YMCA on Ribberys buttocks

    Good news for us, and for Robben

  • Totnumb above Arsenal? In the ugly stakes for sure.

    You can always tell one. They look lkie the kind of man who gets a boner rubbing up to other men on a packed tube.

    If you ever see one dont bother cusping your wallet, protect your bollocks

  • They then go home and tell the wife what a great day they have had.

    Course they have. Theyve just rubbed themselves up on some poor unsespecting Japanese tourist

  • Interesting follow up comments today, with great theories and solutions. But nobody has offered a convincing solution for the DM pivot problem and I fear for Wednesday.

  • You are right TA, there is no obvious solution to the DM pivot problem, at least until Flamini is back, and later Rambo. But I also feel we are hard on Arteta, Jack, or even Özil… very few solutions were being offered.and they were often left stranded, cornered by 2 or three opponents. Nacho, Bac’ (both too high up), Santi, Ox, Giroud, everyone has to take a share of the responsibility. We need collective movement, collective pressing, to play as a unit, and we are capable of that even with a tired or imperfect double pivot.

  • TA, could it be that AW has scared the shit out of all the players so whoever plays in the double DM pivot will perform and stick to their defensive duties. 😀 😉

  • Hi TA. I fear for Wednesday too, but not because of the DM pivot per se. If our available 11 perform to their ability then I think we have a better team than manure. But its a big ‘if’, and if anything the scum may be more desperate than us for points. But they should not be able to boss us in midfield if we show up, though Flam is clearly a miss for us. I assume Ros will play – alongside Art? I would like to see Gnab play, but presume Jack would then move out to the right if he is fit enough. Oz and Santi, assuming they both play, will need to show some fight – they will surely know what the Emirates will be expecting of them!?

    One bad game and we can’t assume our defence will be as poor as on Saturday. We need to trust the team to show us what they have done over this season as a whole – discipline and fight. Above all lets not let Judas score against us, for once…..

    Come on Gooners – chins up!

  • Alcide, there is a lot of sense in your comment. I would love the team to perform really well as a unit against Manure.

    I also should add that Admir’s idea of playing Arteta and Rosicky deep could really work on Wednesday (don’t agree with the rest though).

  • Good points AB. I would play Arteta(Vermaelen but won’t happen)/Rosicky as the ‘DM’s with Jack in the hole, Ozil and Podolski/Ox on the wings and Giroud up top.

  • The problem I have a tommorow is the bloody tube strike. Ime taking my daughter so its added pressure.

    But its Vics I really feel sorry for. I only live a few mile away, but poor Old Vics is coming from Essex and hes taking his daughter and son. First game of the season for them an all.

  • Not worried about the game. Utd will be turned over

    This has been a fantastic conversation about our tactics, playing personell, and midfield balance.

    But tommorow that wont matter. Sometimes you watch a game and its just plain and simple who wants it more.

  • TA, but AW seems to think they can. I just hope they can do it ‘mentally’ on a temporarily basis. It does not fill you with confidence but that’s all we can hope for in my opinion.

  • Terry, at least we have a good rail replacement service. Where that rolled eyes emoticon when you need it. 😀

  • Its a pain in the arse AFC. Now I know how Ribbery feels.

    But it will be worth it to beat those Mancs

  • Terry, I hope it will be worth it for you, just remember its not the tube staffs fault they are on strike in the first place. I know you Terry you’ll kidnap the driver and force him to personally take you to Holloway road station. 😀

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